Every day, 280 Australians develop diabetes – that’s one person every five minutes! In fact, there’s around 1.7 million Australians who have diabetes. Of those, 15 per cent live with type 1 diabetes, caused by an autoimmune disease and 85 per cent with type 2, caused by poor pancreatic function that worsens over time. Diabetes is prevalent yet its causes are not common knowledge, and that means people throw around rumours like (sugarless) candy. Now it’s time to debunk the biggest diabetic myths. We did the research and found the five most popular fables doing the rounds.
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Can’t eat sugar
There is a common misconception that people with diabetes can’t eat sugar, that it will trigger the demonising effects of the common illness. This is without a doubt a myth. “Now we know that sugar and sweets do not raise blood glucose more than other foods that are mostly carbohydrate,” says the University of Illinois. Fruits natural in sugar are staple foods in the diet of many and shouldn’t be avoided. Just make sure that you look to healthy low GI foods as snacks rather than sweets.
Only fat people get diabetes
When people think of diabetes, they think of someone who is obese. Despite common thought, thin people can also be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, albeit less likely. Speaking to everydayhealth, endocrinologist, Dr Christopher Case says the risk for developing type 2 diabetes may be lesser if you’re thin, but it’s still real, especially if you’re older. He adds that one of major reasons for the misconception is that there is no definition of thin. For instance, someone may not look overweight, but if they are carrying extra weight, particularly around the stomach, this can be a risk factor.
‘You brought it on yourself’
It’s the line that’s rattled the US, especially after Trump’s budget director decided it was a good enough reason to leave diabetes out of the US health care budget. However, despite common understanding that poor diet leads to type 2 diabetes, healthy people are also susceptible to the debilitating ailment. Although personal diet and lifestyle choices play a role in developing the disease, hereditary factors can play a major part.
In current society social stigma surrounding diabetes is halting the nursing of the illness, says a report, published by Deakin University. “Our findings indicate that not only is obesity-related stigma likely to be a barrier to diabetes management in a healthcare setting, but also diabetes-specific stigma may be an additional barrier,” wrote the authors of the study
Diet causes type 1 diabetes
When people think of diabetes, people think about poor diet - a combination of excessive consumption of fast food and way too many sugary sweets. However, type 1 diabetes is developed as a result of an autoimmune disease. According to Webmd, “type 1 diabetes develops because the body’s immune system destroys beta cells in a part of the pancreas called the islet tissue. These beta cells produce insulin. So people with type 1 diabetes can’t make their own insulin.” A build up of fat around the pancreas lowers the organs function. Whilst poor diet aids and speeds up the process of destroying those beta cells, fat storage around the pancreas can be caused by lack of exercise but more likely from hereditary factors.
Type 2 diabetes is not serious.
Wrong. If a person who has type 2 doesn’t take care of their health or have the support of a good health care team they are at serious risk of developing complications such as organ failure and other serious health issues. “Diabetes is a serious disease because of its potential to cause complications that result in significant morbidity and morality”, a study in The Journal of Diabetes Nursing writes. According to Better Health Victoria, those diagnosed with diabetes are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, blindness, and infections and illnesses that can arise from a weaker immune system. Diabetes is also a growing cause of amputation in Australia.
If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner.